Efforts to derail the plan to dedicate Bessie Rhodes School to Spanish-English bilingual instruction continued Monday night at the Evanston/Skokie District 65 board meeting.

Several parents spoke out against the proposal and presented a report to board members outlining their concerns. The report includes alternatives, including developing a TWI community school in the 5th Ward.  Board members pointed out a referendum to fund a new school in the 5th Ward was defeated by a 55 to 45 percent margin in 2012. 

In an effort to placate worried parents, district staff said Mandarin instruction would continue alongside Spanish at Bessie Rhodes if the TWI program is implemented.

Board member Rebecca Mendoza praised the parents for their involvement and district staff for working so hard to come up with a plan to meet the growing needs of Evanston’s Spanish speaking population. She acknowledged the board has a difficult decision ahead, but one she says is ” being made for our district and all of our students”

Rebecca Mendoza

Bessie Rhodes parent Donna Su said she fears the board has already come to a decision.  If the TWI immersion is approved, she says, she will take her kids out.

“Imagine the incoming TWI kindergartners, I wouldn’t want my child to be a part of this test subject, with a new teacher every year, not just new to the class but to the school”

Other parents fear phasing in TWI will force many Bessie Rhodes teachers to start looking elsewhere for jobs, knowing they will not be suitable for the bilingual instruction that will be implemented. They say that will lead to instability and disruption at the school.

Henry Wilkins and Donna Su

A decision will be made on Bessie Rhodes at the School Board Dec. 4 meeting.

On another matter, about half-dozen parents of students in grade four at Lincolnwood School demanded the board do more to keep their children safe.

They say a few kids in their grade have created a culture of violence and intimidation resulting in many of their children being afraid to attend school.

Superintendent Goren said the district is aware of the problem and is taking action. 

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  1. No equity in District 65
    A neighborhood school in the 5th ward has been needed since 1979, when at a February 5th meeting the board DECIDED by a vote of 5 to 2 to close Foster school. Notice that this was a board decision, not a referendum by the taxpayers of Evanston. But yesterday in order to quell local calls for a neighborhood school in the 5th ward, “Board members pointed to the referendum to fund a new school in the 5th Ward which was defeated by a 55 to 45 percent margin in 2012.” How disingenuous.

    Foster school provided unity to the black community. Mothers and fathers could walk their kids to school just like I walked mine to Orrington School. They could attend their children’s after school programs. They could visit with the teachers. Then one day all their kids as young as 5 were bused to unfamiliar schools, losing their neighborhood friends, all of which was, for many little ones, a very scary experience! While the parents were not able to participate in their kids’ schools unless they went by car. There was no need. Because they would integrate in middle and high school anyway.

    Then there is the issue of TWI, a program that separates Hispanics from the rest of the school population in order to teach…what? More Spanish? I understand that in kindergarten they are taught 90% in Spanish! This is when kids’ capacity for learning is at their peak! And they are being taught 90% in Spanish?

    Furthermore the classes have larger numbers of “speaking Spanish at home” than “native English speakers”, which is contrary to the program stipulations. And I believe many of the “native English speaking” are actually Hispanics who “speak English well.”

    Is that what they came here for? To learn better Spanish? They came here to have access to opportunities that they couldn’t find in their country of origin. That means being fluent in ENGLISH, not Spanish! Our schools are not supposed to “support their bilingual and biliteracy development” they are supposed to prepare them to be effective and successful in the very competitive adult world. And that means being fluent in ENGLISH. Where is the “equity” that D65 talks so much about? There is no “equity” in TWI, when they are not sophisticated enough in English to enroll in advanced courses at ETHS, in order to be accepted in a college.

    As board member Tracy Quattrocki noted about the only 39% of Hispanics being on track to college readiness in reading, higher percentages of the non-TWI group scored above the 40th percentile and above college readiness benchmarks than TWI students. She pointed that the data shows that some of the English learners scored better when they were NOT in TWI. She said, “looking at the data, I wouldn’t be convinced we need to double down on TWI.” (Evanston Roundtable)

    1. This city needs you!
      Would you PLEASE consider running for a seat on either District 65 or 202? You speak more truth than any member of either school board ever has. This city needs people to govern it who understand the facts as they are, not as they want them to be. I think that there are quite a few Evanston residents who would thank you for your ideas!

    2. Evanston Schools – All Equity, no results
      Evanston Schools are totally immersed and enthralled with Equity. This total infatuation with Equity has consumed both D65 and D202 School Boards, Administrations, and many teachers and community members. Equity is important for Evanston, and it should be a means to an end. In the schools the end is improved academic results.

      But where are the results? At ETHS, the recent academic achievement reports showed that 84% of white students achieved a 24 or higher on ACT tests, up from 79% but only 17% of black students realized a 24 or higher on the ACT, and that 17% was the same percentage – NO IMPROVEMENT. The lack of improvement for black students is disturbing after ETHS has revamped the curriculum, spent more money, allocated a lot of time and money for board members, administrators, and teachers to attend the Pacific Education Group (PEG) conference for over 5 years, but where are the results?

      Board members told the community how “impactful” the conference is, but what about results for students? Are the schools being run for adults to “feel good” or to educate our youth to enable them to realize their fullest potential and become successful in school and later in life? ETHS is spending almost $25,000 per year per student and D65 is spending almost $15,000 per year per student – this is almost 2 times the state average. And where are the results?

      Maybe instead of focusing so much time, effort and money on Equity Initiatives, maybe both districts should spend time and money thinking about how to enable more students to learn. What are the evidenced based programs that actually work? Why and how are 17% of black students scoring a 24 or higher on ACT tests and how can we get more black students to achieve at similar or higher levels? And the same is true for hispanic students and students of other affinity groups.

      We’ve spent too much time and energy and money on programs that haven’t produced their intended results. It’s time to truly help ALL students succeed.

    3. This is the time to learn a language

      we both agree that the kids have a higher capacity to learn at this age. You also seem to be worried about the kids having too much Spanish and not enough English. 

      Well, let me tell you that if they are falling behind on English (anecdotal at best) they will pick it up immediately because they are immersed in it outside of school. It’s not that their capacity to learn only applies to school hours and then drops to cero.

      The only children who might have a problem are those whose parents don’t speak English at home or are not involved in their child’s development. Everyone else has everything to gain from this program.

  2. Is Lincolnwood still housing D65’s students with behavior issues
    Doesn’t Lincolnwood still house the district’s students with behaviour problems and streamlining them into the main classroom at Lincolnwood? Could the kids creating a culture of violence and intimidation be part of this pilot program?

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